, Volume 269, Issue 1-2, pp 131-139

Effects of water stress and high nocturnal temperature on photosynthesis and nitrogen level of a perennial grass Leymus chinensis

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Water deficit and high temperature are important environmental factors restricting plant growth and photosynthesis. The two stresses often occur simultaneously, but their interactions on photosynthesis and nitrogen level have been less studied. In the present experiment, we measured photosynthetic parameters, stomatal density, and nitrogen levels, as well as soluble sugar content of leaves of a perennial grass, Leymus chinensis, experiencing two day/night temperature regimes of 30/20 °C and 30/25 °C, and five different soil moisture contents (the soil relative-water content ranged from 80% to 25%). Leaf relative water content, leaf biomass, whole plant biomass, the ratio between the leaf biomass and total plant biomass, and the photosynthetic rate, as well as water-use efficiency decreased at high night temperature, especially under severe water stress conditions. Stomatal index was also increased by soil water stress except very severe water stress, and high nocturnal temperature decreased the leaf stomatal index under soil water stress. Nocturnal warming decreased nitrogen concentration in the leaves and increased it in the roots, particularly when plants were subjected to severe water stress. There were significant positive correlations between the photosynthetic rate and both soluble sugar concentration and nitrogen concentration at low nocturnal temperature. It is suggested that nocturnal warming significantly exacerbates the adverse effects of soil water stress, and their synergistic interactions might reduce the plant productivity and constrain its distribution in the region dominated by L. chinensis, based on predictions of global climate change.